I’m so excited about this one – it’s on my Christmas wish list and I know I’m getting it! (I love surprises, but when you know you’re going to get something? The anticipation makes up for the lack of surprise.)
I had requested it from the library but cancelled the hold on it because surely I can wait until Christmas. And I don’t want to ruin the surprise of holding this book in my hands, reading Alan Moore’s introduction (yes, Alan Moore!), flipping through looking at all the illustrations.
The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, annotated and edited by Leslie S. Klinger, is a massive tome, clocking in at nearly 900 pages. It contains over 1,000 annotations and nearly 300 illustrations, including original artwork from various pulp publications like Weird Tales and Astounding Stories.
The book covers twenty-two Lovecraft stories comprising the best of the “Arkham Cycle” stories (Arkham is the fictional New England town these tales are centered around), including “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”.
I love the thought of going through the annotations. Lovecraft’s writing style isn’t necessarily the easiest style to read – he had a tendency to be verbose and use a lot of antiquated words. From the reviews I’ve read, the annotations are very helpful in shedding light on some of the more denser passages. According to Bookgasm:
The notes, which for the most part appear on the same page as the story under consideration, are of three types: Klinger defines the antiquarian and obsolete words Lovecraft was so found of; he discusses the historical and cultural background to many of the events and people mentioned; and he verifies (or, when necessary, corrects) the assertions of fact Lovecraft used to embellish his stories.
Klinger also annotated and edited the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories and the The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels), both of which are on my wish list. But I’m not so sure either of these will show up under the tree this year. The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, though? It’s definitely going to be mine!
New to Lovecraft?
If you’re new to Lovecraft, you’re probably not prepared yet to go through a massive book like The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. Luckily, though, all of Lovecraft’s works can be found in the public domain. The version I recommend is from The Cthulhu Chick. She’s put together The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft in a variety of ebook formats and it’s available for download for free here. It’s a nicely formatted version, with all of Lovecraft’s stories included in chronological order.
And if you’d like to learn more about Lovecraft? The Speakeasy blog at The Wall Street Journal recently posted an excellent read on “Why H.P. Lovecraft Matters More Than Ever“, including some insightful quotes from both Klinger and Moore on Lovecraft’s racism.